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Food choices you want to see more of in SD..

Beach Chick Jun 17, 2010 02:56 PM

My choices.. gazpacho, lilikoi pie, King Crab cocktail, abalone, Paella, sand dabs, tableside caesar salad with anchovies, stilton, brown rice & quinoa, baked goat cheese, garlic, mango/jicama salad, banana creme pie, oysters rockfeller and Patty Melts..

  1. r
    royaljester Feb 11, 2011 10:34 PM

    Good authentic Italian, that's all I ask.

    1. r
      RB Hound Feb 10, 2011 02:02 PM

      I'd love to see somebody serve a doner kebab with a slathering of refried beans.

      1. c
        cstr Sep 1, 2010 04:15 PM

        How about some great Peruvian street food or a screaming spicy bowl of chili sans the beans!

        2 Replies
        1. re: cstr
          foodiechick Sep 1, 2010 04:51 PM

          Yes! Because every REAL foodie knows: there are NO beans in REAL chili!

          1. re: foodiechick
            deeznuts Sep 2, 2010 11:54 AM

            beans are filler. added because it was cheaper than beef. if you are going to serve chili, make the beans optional darnit!

        2. honkman Jun 25, 2010 03:58 PM

          Doner Kebab

          3 Replies
          1. re: honkman
            Tripeler Jun 26, 2010 11:21 PM

            Or.... Organ Doner Kebab!

            You know, made with offal.

            1. re: Tripeler
              cgfan Jun 26, 2010 11:55 PM

              ...as served on Don[n]er Pass?

              1. re: cgfan
                Tripeler Jun 27, 2010 12:18 AM

                A friend of mine used to work reception at a failing restaurant that only stayed afloat because of its cheap bar. Most nights were slow and on one night he'd announce early in the evening

                "Donner, party of 18, in the main dining room"

                followed somewhat later by

                "Donner, party of 12, in the main dining room"

                and would continue on with that every 20 minutes or so.
                Sadly, none of the regulars (drunks) at the bar would ever get concerned.

          2. jmtreg Jun 25, 2010 03:30 PM

            Shoo Fly Pie
            apple cider
            Southern Indian cuisine

            1 Reply
            1. re: jmtreg
              ipsit Jun 25, 2010 04:38 PM

              Check out Bawarchi (opened last week) and Dosa Place (opening in 2 weeks) for Southern Indian. They hold the promise to elevate the South Indian food scene considerably.
              Running discussion and review in this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7133...

            2. z
              zare_k Jun 25, 2010 02:38 PM

              A more diverse array of Chinese cuisines. I would especially like some more options for dumplings, dim sum, and various snacks.

              Singaporean food.

              Better desserts and patisserie, especially places that are open in the evening. Opera Patisserie in Sorrento Valley is not bad and I like some of what Bread and Cie makes, but Extraordinary Desserts, Heaven Sent, Babycakes, etc fall a little short for me-- too sweet and heavy, not enough flavor.

              Extraordinary Desserts
              2929 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103

              Opera Patisserie
              9254 Scranton Rd, San Diego, CA 92121

              1. j
                juantanamera Jun 25, 2010 12:17 AM

                Chinese food of all types and price ranges. Even the Americanized, low cost staple places found on nearly every corner in NYC and many other US cities. So many times I've had an urge for some Chinese and none in sight...

                1. geekyfoodie Jun 23, 2010 10:23 AM

                  -Cheap Cantonese food... Sam Woo San Diego is, quite frankly, crap
                  -Hong Kong-style cafes
                  -More Viet restaurants that aren't geared towards pho
                  -Good dim sum (just help me maintain my blood pressure within normal levels by NOT telling me to go to Jasmine or Emerald...)
                  -More coffee establishments, although Zumbar makes me plenty happy
                  -Taiwanese food
                  -Malaysian food (even LA doesn't have a well-established Malay dining scene... so sad)
                  -More Peruvian... I don't care for PB and therefore don't visit Latin Chef as much as I would like
                  -Asian food courts like they do in LA, Vancouver, or Auckland... food is wonderful, service is nonexistent, and you load up your tray with a variety of dishes and eat to your heart's content
                  -Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles
                  -Permanent markets like Reading Terminal Market in Philly or Ferry Terminal Building in SF.

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: geekyfoodie
                    honkman Jun 23, 2010 10:43 AM

                    Nazca Grill for Peruvian food close to the corner of Balboa and Genessee is quite good. And Q'ero in Encinitas is more expensive (and more up-scale Peruvian food than Latin Chef and Nazca Grill) but very good.

                    1. re: honkman
                      daantaat Jun 23, 2010 09:22 PM

                      Is Nazca Grill across the street from the Target/Home Depot complex off Genessee?
                      How is Q'ero compared to it's predecessor, of which the name I'm blanking on? We went to their predecessor and found it expensive and not very good. We had some phenomenal food in Peru lately, as well as Andina in Portland.

                      Q'ero Restaurant
                      564 S Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA

                      1. re: daantaat
                        honkman Jun 23, 2010 09:38 PM

                        I was never to the predecessor so can't compare. I was also never in Peru but have a coworker from Peru and she thinks Q'ero is relatively expensive but by far the best Peruvian food you will get in SD.

                        And yes, Nazca Grill is across from the Target/Home Depot in the same shopping center as Thai Time III

                      2. re: honkman
                        deeznuts Jun 23, 2010 09:25 PM

                        Might have to give this a try soon. Been wanting to go Qero but we always decide too late and the place fills up

                      3. re: geekyfoodie
                        daantaat Jun 23, 2010 09:22 PM

                        it'd be great if there was a good poke place around. I had a little $8 bowl of heaven in Honolulu and immediately thought it'd make a great addition along Convoy.

                        1. re: daantaat
                          Beach Chick Jun 23, 2010 09:34 PM

                          do you remember where that slice of $8 poke bowl heaven was at in HNL?
                          I'll be there for a week in Sept.
                          Aloha daantaat!

                          1. re: Beach Chick
                            littlestevie Jun 24, 2010 09:05 AM

                            Mai tais at sunset on the patio of the Halikulani.

                            1. re: Beach Chick
                              daantaat Jun 24, 2010 10:03 PM

                              Pa'ina Cafe in Ward Warehouse. The only thing I would have added to my poke was a light sprinkling of kosher salt--everything else was very yummy!

                              I've pasted my report from my trip below...


                              I'd be curious where you went!

                              1. re: daantaat
                                Beach Chick Jun 25, 2010 05:17 PM

                                Outstanding report daantaat!
                                Love poke and I'll keep the kosher salt nearby..Mariposa's for lunch too!
                                I go in September for a week for my birthday/anniversary..love O'ahu!

                                1. re: Beach Chick
                                  daantaat Jun 25, 2010 07:44 PM

                                  thanks! have fun in Sept!

                              2. re: Beach Chick
                                littlestevie Jun 25, 2010 09:06 AM

                                Also don't forget Mariposa's in Needless Markup at the Ala Moana mall for lunch. Sit out on the patio for a nice view of the park.

                          2. Fake Name Jun 23, 2010 09:12 AM

                            Oh. Stacked enchiladas with a fried egg on top! Please.

                            (poster understands this is not an authentic dish, and may have been created by a chef who's not fully realized the classics before creating this meal)

                            1. i
                              Island Jun 22, 2010 08:19 PM

                              New Mexican, with many green chile dishes.

                              1. i
                                Island Jun 22, 2010 08:00 PM

                                Abalone, yes! Used to be pretty common when I first moved here over 20 years ago. Sadly not anymore. Where do you find it on the menu?

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Island
                                  geekyfoodie Jun 23, 2010 10:17 AM

                                  I'm not an expert on species distribution, but it could be that the waters in San Diego aren't as hospitable for abalone as they used to be. I haven't seen abalone on the menu here, but if you head north to the Central Coast (San Luis Obispo, Cayucos, Cambria, etc.), you'll find that there's a nice local abalone scene, much like uni here.

                                  1. re: geekyfoodie
                                    littlestevie Jun 23, 2010 10:48 AM

                                    It was over fished here. You need so many abalone to have a sustainable population. If there are too spread out, reproduction is a problem. The CC gets them because there is a fairly large abalone farm in Cayucos. I don't think there is much wild abalone harvesting until you get past San Francisco.

                                    1. re: littlestevie
                                      Island Jun 25, 2010 08:23 PM

                                      I also though overfishing was the cause. Last place I heard of it on a menu was Top of Cove. Former coworker used to pay and arm and a leg for it for a birthday treat every year, but that's got to be at least 5 years ago. Other than her abalone fix I've never heard anything good about that place so never tried it.

                                      1. re: littlestevie
                                        foodiechick Jun 26, 2010 12:36 PM

                                        I have found it on many menus in the Santa Barbara/Ventura area of the coast, farm sourced.

                                        1. re: foodiechick
                                          hye Jun 27, 2010 11:49 AM

                                          Diseases, too. There's a bacteria slowly making its way up the California coast that affects black and red abalone.

                                  2. deckape Jun 22, 2010 02:19 PM

                                    Anybody know of a good Poisson Cru here in SD?

                                    1. d
                                      deeznuts Jun 21, 2010 11:30 PM

                                      How about a real southern food/cajun/creole/soul food place?

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: deeznuts
                                        stevewag23 Jun 22, 2010 09:59 AM

                                        All four of those would be nice.

                                        1. re: stevewag23
                                          deeznuts Jun 22, 2010 10:24 AM

                                          Yup, in any order.

                                        2. re: deeznuts
                                          daantaat Jun 22, 2010 10:13 PM

                                          Bud's Louisiana comes close but it's only one slice of the South. Would love some Low Country cooking around here!

                                          Bud's Louisiana Cafe
                                          10425 Tierrasanta Blvd Ste 105, San Diego, CA 92124

                                          1. re: daantaat
                                            littlestevie Jun 23, 2010 08:34 AM

                                            Low country cooking. When I went to Charleston a couple of years back, I discovered it and just loved it. I really have not seen it outside of the south and really even coastal North and South Carolina. Much different that Cajun and your generic southern, probably Creole is the closest, but it too is very different.

                                            1. re: daantaat
                                              deeznuts Jun 23, 2010 09:22 PM

                                              I had a decent experience at Buds. I found their red beans and rice delicious but was underwhelmed by their gumbo. It is what it is. When Gustav hit my girlfriend spent a month there after (she works insurance) and I was so jealous. She's not even a chowhounder.

                                          2. cgfan Jun 19, 2010 07:15 PM

                                            It's a simple request, and can be taken as sounding corny, but it's all so true...

                                            ...all I ask for are more places where I can taste the love and soul of the shop in their dishes.

                                            Move primary focus away from business plans, packaging, marketing, dining trends and location, and more on what really counts and the customers will still be there, if not more. Let's get some more soul in our food!

                                            10 Replies
                                            1. re: cgfan
                                              stevewag23 Jun 19, 2010 07:38 PM

                                              Well said.

                                              1. re: cgfan
                                                honkman Jun 19, 2010 07:43 PM

                                                "all I ask for are more places where I can taste the love and soul of the shop in their dishes" - Completely agree but the "problem" is that people will "see " love and soul very differently.

                                                1. re: cgfan
                                                  ipsit Jun 19, 2010 08:03 PM


                                                  1. re: cgfan
                                                    SaltyRaisins Jun 19, 2010 11:51 PM

                                                    Aye, captain.


                                                    1. re: cgfan
                                                      cstr Jun 20, 2010 06:14 AM

                                                      Well stated, I generally find small proprietor single family restos to have soul and character.

                                                      1. re: cgfan
                                                        SaltyRaisins Jun 20, 2010 10:54 PM

                                                        To that end...may I say that the suite of Japanese restaurants in town really do their best in this regard, and regularly knock me over with the care they put into their food and service. Perhaps it's the Shinto/Buddhist blend of religious dedication with the mindful act of whatever it is that a person does for a living that makes Oton/Okan, Shirhama, Sakura, and Kaito exemplars of dedication to their craft. But whatever the motives, I'm so thankful that I no longer have patronize generalists such as Tajima for my particular cravings. The work these places do is high art for sure, and even though these kind of comparisons are silly, spending my hard-earned cash with them has started to make fine dining experiences seem absurd in comparison.

                                                        A special mention for Nabe-san, and his Yakyudori locations- he has never given less than his all to me, and here on the couch with a bellyfull of great ramen, what seems absurd is the exchange of dollars for what I've received from his kitchens. Hope this humble style of dedication spreads.

                                                        And with that, I say cheers to you all. I'm off to the East coast for two months of some cloistered language study. It's been an interesting year so far for sure- see yinz in August.


                                                        1. re: SaltyRaisins
                                                          cgfan Jun 20, 2010 11:55 PM

                                                          Hurrah and agreed... Although I didn't mention it, it was my most recent meal at Okan which specifically inspired this last post of mine.

                                                          And to think that many of them employ Slow Food principles without ever even having heard the term; it's just the way that it's done. ("Of course the mound of Daikon garnishing a plate of Sashimi at Kaito isn't shredded on a mandolin but rather results from traditional knife work..." Never mind that most of even their customers don't give it a moment's thought and just leave it on the plate...)

                                                          ...and for some video inspiration from Kaito: http://tinyurl.com/2ezj76z

                                                          ...and an incredible "slow food" example of Miso production: http://tinyurl.com/yaadugg

                                                          1. re: SaltyRaisins
                                                            daantaat Jun 21, 2010 09:00 PM

                                                            I hope that one of these Japanese gems will start serving somen in the near future!

                                                            1. re: daantaat
                                                              Tripeler Jun 21, 2010 09:07 PM

                                                              After all, it's summer. Certainly time for cold somen.

                                                          2. re: cgfan
                                                            cgfan Jun 22, 2010 10:09 AM

                                                            I'd also like to see more ethnic food festivals, as well as truly seasonal food festivals.

                                                            The latter would be particularly nice, rather than seeing the "same tired old booths and the same tired old items", no matter how good. I'd say that nearly all of the prepared food booths that show up at our street festivals will never be able to have truly seasonal offerings year round, as they have cornered themselves (branded themselves) around a single specialty non-seasonal product or theme.

                                                            (Viva Pops is a rare, and tasty, exception to this...)

                                                          3. Tripeler Jun 19, 2010 07:19 AM

                                                            I mean, I would really like to see Jason Neroni in charge of a place specializing in fish tacos. Is that too much to hope for? This would be ideal for the San Diego food scene. Or am I just dreaming?

                                                            1. i
                                                              ipsit Jun 18, 2010 07:46 PM

                                                              South Asian cuisine that tastes a little more like the South Asian cuisine in South Asia. 1/3 of the respectable Indian food scene around here consists of an 8-hours a week food truck...and we've got no Bengali, Nepali, Bhutanese, Pakistani or Sri Lankan (and no sign of about a dozen or so Indian subcuisines).

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: ipsit
                                                                shouzen Jun 19, 2010 05:58 PM

                                                                I would add to that, Southeast Asian cuisine as well - particularly some Malaysian, Indonesian, Singaporean... ah, one can dream...

                                                                1. re: ipsit
                                                                  daantaat Jun 19, 2010 09:51 PM

                                                                  I was thinking the same thing....

                                                                2. DiningDiva Jun 18, 2010 09:15 AM

                                                                  I would like to see

                                                                  - Mexican food that isn't tacos, burritos, carnitas, enchiladas or tamales. I love all those things (to which my waisteline can attest) but they barely scratch the surface. Candelas and El Vitral try, but they miss the mark by a mile.

                                                                  - And while I'm at it, a place similar to the ubiquitous "zocalo" in every Mexican city where everyone gathers, meets up with friends, to eat, to dance, to listen to music (some good, some weird, some bad). A spot - it can be parklike - that is often ringed with small cafes serving up beer, sodas, small plates/botanas of everyone's favorites. Kind of like happy hour, only all day and most of the night long and not limited to those over 21. IOWs, the perfect spot to sit, eat, drink, slow down, socialize and be part of the community.

                                                                  - Corn that tastes like corn and does make my teeth ache because it's been hybridized to death to make it "sweet"

                                                                  - Tomatoes, and peahces for that matter, that taste like a tomato or a peach and not some mealy, cardboard fruit

                                                                  - More bakeries like Con Pane and Azucar that do a set limited menu, does it well, and is not over the top, or trying to be all things to all people

                                                                  - More concepts like Tender Greens

                                                                  - A really good seafood house in the old Quigg's space

                                                                  - More tropical fruits...think pitaya (dragon fruit), zapote negro (distant cousin to the persimmon and the drop dead best fruit in the world), or the exquisite guanabana.

                                                                  - Something similar to what's developed along the 30th St. corridor, only in the East County.

                                                                  - Quail

                                                                  - Pork other than tenderloin, carnitas or pulled

                                                                  - Legal street vendors or a night food market (like the one in Singapore)

                                                                  - BC can have her Banana Cream Pie, I want a decent Coconut Cream Pie

                                                                  - And we always need more chocolate

                                                                  Tender Greens
                                                                  2400 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego, CA 92106

                                                                  El Vitral Restaurant
                                                                  815 J Ave, San Diego, CA 92118

                                                                  15 Replies
                                                                  1. re: DiningDiva
                                                                    honkman Jun 18, 2010 09:48 AM

                                                                    "And we always need more chocolate" - No, we need to have good ice cream in SD. I really miss good ice cream

                                                                    1. re: honkman
                                                                      DiningDiva Jun 18, 2010 09:56 AM

                                                                      Add it to my list. Ice Cream is a food group in my book.

                                                                      1. re: honkman
                                                                        Josh Jun 18, 2010 11:05 AM

                                                                        There is good ice cream here.

                                                                        Oasis in Imperial Beach makes some pretty good ice cream, IMO. I also like the gelato at Chocolat in Hillcrest.

                                                                        1. re: Josh
                                                                          honkman Jun 18, 2010 01:43 PM

                                                                          I have to try Oasis. Chocolat (and Pappalecco) are decent places which both have some flavors which are good but many are average. The different chocolate flavors (not surprising) at Chocoat are good but everything else is not that good and if you go to fruit flavors it gets really disappointing. Pappalecco is similar with the Little Italy location being better than the one in Hillcrest.

                                                                          1. re: honkman
                                                                            Josh Jun 18, 2010 02:56 PM

                                                                            If you're craving fruit flavors, I think you'll be happy with Oasis. Their watermelon, strawberry, and guava (especially guava) are awesome. Fruit flavors there aren't cream based, though. More like sorbet.

                                                                            Their vanilla, rice pudding, and peanut butter flavors are my favorites.

                                                                            It doesn't look like much from the parking lot, but the ice cream is good. You can also get their bars in OB at Lighthouse Ice Cream Parlor.

                                                                            Funny about Chocolat: I've never tried the fruit flavors, because they look highly suspect to me. :-) Their dark chocolate is good. I also like the Nutella, coconut, and stracciatella. Pappalecco isn't bad, but I think Chocolat edges them out a bit. The texture seems smoother to me.

                                                                            1602 State St, San Diego, CA 92101

                                                                          2. re: Josh
                                                                            ikeg Jun 18, 2010 04:41 PM

                                                                            Don't forget Neiderfranks ice cream, which you can get at the Daily Scoop in South Park. It's made in National City-- I find it to be much better than Oasis, which I have tried, but would never make another trip out to IB for.

                                                                            The Daily Scoop
                                                                            3004 Juniper St, San Diego, CA 92104

                                                                            1. re: ikeg
                                                                              Josh Jun 18, 2010 05:12 PM

                                                                              I like Niederfrank's OK, but I don't know if I'd say it's better than Oasis. I just think of it as different. Not every flavor at Oasis is a home run, but some are very good. Lighthouse in OB also sells Niederfrank's. The belgian waffle ice cream sandwich with cinnamon ice cream is awesome.

                                                                              1. re: Josh
                                                                                mayache Jun 18, 2010 06:24 PM

                                                                                I didn't try the cinnamon ice cream but for me the waffle angle at Lighthouse didn't pan out as great as expected. When I heard about it I kind of figured it was going to be a real, fresh-cooked waffle, but it seemed to be the small thin microwave type.

                                                                                1. re: mayache
                                                                                  Josh Jun 18, 2010 10:07 PM

                                                                                  That's lame. Wonder if it's changed in recent years. When I lived in OB, they made those sandwiches with freshly-made thick Belgian waffles. It sounds like the shop's taken a turn for the worse.

                                                                                2. re: Josh
                                                                                  nessy Jun 19, 2010 06:24 AM

                                                                                  They also sell Niederfranks in that Smoothie store two doors east of Super Cocina on University--I just discoverd.

                                                                                  Super Cocina
                                                                                  3627 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92104

                                                                                  1. re: nessy
                                                                                    DiningDiva Jun 19, 2010 07:56 AM


                                                                                    3647 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104

                                                                            2. re: honkman
                                                                              littlestevie Jun 18, 2010 01:17 PM

                                                                              Ice Cream, ice cream, we all scream for ice cream. What I would love would be a frozen custard place. I went to school in St. Louis many many years ago, and there was a place called Ted Drewes, that served a soft frozen custard called a concrete. It is similar to a DQ blizzard, but that would be calling the steak you get at BA similar to your piece of perfectly seared cow from Cowboy Star.

                                                                              1. re: honkman
                                                                                goodhealthgourmet Jun 18, 2010 08:30 PM

                                                                                i thought Mariposa in Normal Heights was supposed to be great...?

                                                                                and granted it's been a while since my last visit, but if you're open to gelato, Bubby's in Encinitas never disappoints.

                                                                              2. re: DiningDiva
                                                                                Island Jun 22, 2010 08:09 PM

                                                                                Yeah put me down for some decent coconut cream pie too. Also coconut cake, coconut ice cream, macaroons.... I love coconut.

                                                                                1. re: DiningDiva
                                                                                  juantanamera Sep 2, 2010 12:24 AM

                                                                                  Whoah, I don't know how I didn't notice this post earlier, but I am in shock. Have you eaten a peach from Lone Oak Ranch, Smit Orchard, or Santiago Soto Farms, and found it lacking? Those are just a few of the farms growing excellent peaches and bringing them to San Diego markets. Even if you disagree with my taste in peaches, you surely are joking when you say you can't find a flavorful tomato in this town? Chino Farms? Tom King Organics? Valdivia, JR Organics, Suzie's Farm, Kawano Ranch, Schaener Farms? Tomorrow Organic Farm, Heritage Farm, Carlsbad Strawberry Farm? Not a single one of thes grows tomatoes that meet your standards? Please tell me where in this universe are tomatoes grown that satisfy you!

                                                                                2. c
                                                                                  cstr Jun 18, 2010 04:44 AM

                                                                                  Dim Sum with lots of carts and choices, I'd even settle for some good Chinese. An Italian restaurant that's beyond red sauce and a bakery that won't drain your wallet with some outstanding breads, pastries and cookies. Pizza, middle eastern raw kibbee and some great syrian bread and lastly, Q! real Q.

                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: cstr
                                                                                    Beach Chick Jun 18, 2010 07:10 AM

                                                                                    never had Syrian bread or food..where would I go for something like that here in SD?

                                                                                    1. re: Beach Chick
                                                                                      cstr Jun 18, 2010 01:25 PM

                                                                                      Syrian bread is a very thin version of pita, chewy and goes excellent with tabulee, hummas and raw kibbee. Some other versions of food are lamb with large lima beans in a thin tomato sauce, baked stuffed squash or small eggplant and of course, grilled kabobs and veggies of all kinds.

                                                                                      1. re: cstr
                                                                                        Beach Chick Jun 18, 2010 04:34 PM

                                                                                        love love love hummus, tabouli, pita bread..there used to be a middle eastern store in the village of LJ..gotta try the thin version bread.
                                                                                        Market Place Grill in LJ is pretty good place to get the kabobs and veggies in LJ.

                                                                                        1. re: Beach Chick
                                                                                          steveprez Jun 20, 2010 06:40 AM

                                                                                          BC. Check out North Park Produce for middle eastern grocery items and produce as well. I went there yesterday for the first time and the place is a gem. Definitely not "upscale" in fact the opposite. But your first clue that this is a good place is the clientele that includes a lot of women in tradtional Muslim garb. They have an extensive collection of middle eastern and mediteranean food. Syrian bread and multiple types and brands of pita bread. About 10 different types of fresh feta. A great olive bar. I was very impressed by their collection of spices, both whole and ground. Also, good and very inexpensive produce.

                                                                                      2. re: Beach Chick
                                                                                        Cathy Jun 20, 2010 07:18 AM

                                                                                        El Cajon was one of five cities in the US where Iraquis voted once Saddam was captured. The Chaldean/Assyrian/Syriac community out here in East County is large and many restaurants and grocery stores selling traditional foods and Halal meats and are available.

                                                                                        Off the top of my head, Vine Ripe Market (La Mesa), International Market (El Cajon), Athena Foods(El Cajon) as well as another North Park Produce and a newer market on East Main Street almost at Second are thriving markets, with deli counters and bakery sections selling Sangak or similar fresh/hot flatbreads and restaurants such as Mystic Grill (University and70th), Ali Baba (Main Street El Cajon), Garden Fresh Grill and Smoothies (El Cajon at College)(the owners are Lebanese and the food is "Mediterranian") and lots of other smaller ones on or near East Main in El Cajon are thriving. They serve and are run by Muslims, Chaldeans and Syrians who welcome everyone.

                                                                                        Mystic Grill
                                                                                        6990 University Ave, La Mesa, CA 91941

                                                                                    2. thirtyeyes Jun 17, 2010 10:09 PM

                                                                                      Spanish restaurant that serves a great paella and decent tapas. A good Vietnamese restaurant, plenty of Pho shops but no actual Vietnamese food. A real banh mi shop, the kind that sells a $2 sandwich. Another yakitori place or two, I think I'll be dead and gone before the other Yakyudori starts serving yakitori. A really good late night Chinese cafe that serves decent soups--congee, wonton noodle with BBQ or duck. Chinese dumplings/xlb. Basque. More taco shops that serve buche, tripa, cabeza, lengua, etc. And does anybody know where you can get a decent lau lau?

                                                                                      Add: Pupuseria. Spam and eggs.

                                                                                      18 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: thirtyeyes
                                                                                        Josh Jun 17, 2010 10:49 PM

                                                                                        What makes a $2 banh mi more real than a $4 banh mi?

                                                                                        1. re: Josh
                                                                                          thirtyeyes Jun 18, 2010 12:15 AM

                                                                                          Some Vietnamese are reluctant to pay $4 for banh mi ergo a $4 banh mi is designed to be eaten by non-Vietnamese. All my favorite shops were dives that sold most sandwiches for $1.75 or so. In the spirit of this board I'll say if you want a good banh mi in San Diego you should fly to San Jose.

                                                                                          1. re: thirtyeyes
                                                                                            Josh Jun 18, 2010 12:32 AM

                                                                                            All due respect, but I've seen Vietnamese people eating banh mi at places that charge more than $2.

                                                                                            Also, in Vietnamese cookbooks I've seen, all that defines a banh mi is the ingredients used. The idea that cheap pricing defines a food item seems frankly ridiculous.

                                                                                            That's like saying a real hamburger is $0.99 because Jack In The Box has a dollar menu.

                                                                                            1. re: Josh
                                                                                              SaltyRaisins Jun 18, 2010 10:21 AM

                                                                                              I get what thirty means, and I also get what you mean, Josh. I have never eaten good banh mi that cost more than $4- example: the new place on 5th in Hillcrest. On the other hand, I've had $1.75 sandwiches that contained no filling other than a few stray pieces of carrot pickle and a smear of pate. So how about the $2.75 K Sandwiches compromise? Pretty good, if you ask for double veggies...


                                                                                              K Sandwiches
                                                                                              7604 Linda Vista Rd, San Diego, CA 92111

                                                                                              1. re: SaltyRaisins
                                                                                                Josh Jun 18, 2010 11:03 AM

                                                                                                The new place on 5th is a travesty. I wouldn't include them on any list of banh mi. I have had good banh mi at the place on 5th across the street from them, Pho 5th Avenue, though they are also around $4-5.

                                                                                                It seems to me that connecting a price with a food item irrespective of what goes into said food item, or other costs such as rent and location, is pretty illogical.

                                                                                                A banh mi made from questionable ingredients vs. one made from locally sourced ingredients is no longer the same sandwich, wouldn't you agree?

                                                                                                1. re: Josh
                                                                                                  thirtyeyes Jun 18, 2010 07:54 PM

                                                                                                  Ya, you don't seem to get it or you really like to argue. The sky is blue, right? Or do you feel we should discuss that?

                                                                                                  The place with the most Vietnamese outside of Vietnam is probably the south part of the Bay Area. In that area there are hundreds of shops selling banh mi (pho too!), the going rate for banh mi is between $2 and $3. Why? Because there are hundreds of shops selling banh mi. That's just reality. There are good places and there were crappy places just like anything else. I was merely stating that I miss that competitive market for good Vietnamese sandwiches, i.e. the $2 banh mi. Because it is only from such a competitive market will you get both low cost and high quality. I will also state that the same shops that sold $2 banh mi would sell $4 turkey and ham sandwiches and from my perspective they were fairly similar in size which probably has something to do with the purchasing practices of the different clientele. That is all I have to say about that.

                                                                                                  1. re: thirtyeyes
                                                                                                    Josh Jun 18, 2010 10:06 PM

                                                                                                    I like to argue, but I also like to bring some reality to the discussion. What is the rent like in the south part of the Bay Area? Is it comparable to San Diego rent? Or is it really cheap? Pricing in restaurants isn't come up with out of thin air - restaurant owners have to factor in labor cost, rent, taxes, ingredients, etc etc etc.

                                                                                                    I also would dispute the "high quality" designation at such a low price point, unless your definition of high quality doesn't take into account where your food is from or how it was grown and/or raised.

                                                                                                    San Diego has a ton of taco shops - I'd argue that's a pretty competitive market, and yet burritos all come in at around $4+. San Diego's an expensive place to run a business, if you want cheap food you need to go to the neighborhoods with cheap rent.

                                                                                                    1. re: Josh
                                                                                                      SaltyRaisins Jun 18, 2010 11:15 PM

                                                                                                      Like I said- I get what you're saying. I do enjoy their pho, but I have had the $4 banh mi at Saigon on 5th, and it didn't compare to other, and incidentally, less expensive sandwiches I've had. Not even close. And by all means, direct me to a Vietnamese sandwich (aside from the one I hear they're making at MIHO and about which I've yet to hear a good review) that uses locally sourced and sustainable ingredients. The undertone of incredulity is intentional, here- part of why I enjoy a cheap banh mi is the "mystery factor" inherent in the origins of the paté or any of the other "secret ingredients."

                                                                                                      A bit of reality into the discussion, as you mentioned: I think an analogy can be drawn here between a decent carne asada burrito (think back to your pre-commodity beef days and recall your enjoyment) from any -erto's and the price you paid. Anything over five bucks is atypical, even for a pretty good one. I've had upscale carne asada burritos with Kobe-style beef, homemade tortillas etcetera, and I was none the happier. Seems to me thirty was simply talking about a good cheap banh mi place- something that isn't as common here as wherever he or she comes from. I totally get that, and this seems to be the point of this thread, or am I wrong?


                                                                                                      1. re: SaltyRaisins
                                                                                                        Josh Jun 18, 2010 11:25 PM

                                                                                                        I wish I could direct you to such a banh mi, I was speaking in terms of the theoretical.

                                                                                                        RE: carne asada, my favorite in the commodity meat days was Maritza's in Clairemont. It was somewhat upscale - around $1 more than the standard taco shop, and quite a bit smaller, but the meat was far superior, cooked over open flame with a tasty marinade.

                                                                                                        I understand what thirtyeyes is saying, sure - I just think that price is kind of irrelevant. It's the quality of the food item itself that seems most important to me - in some places the price might be higher due to various factors.

                                                                                                        1. re: Josh
                                                                                                          SaltyRaisins Jun 18, 2010 11:35 PM

                                                                                                          And I would be happy to pay more for an upscale banh mi if it tasted good...but banh mi pricing isn't in the realm of the theoretical to me. In fact, I firmly believe, contrary to your initial point, that the crux of this particular street food is tied to to the extremely economical price. A $6.75 Vietnamese sandwich would just not be a Vietnamese sandwich at all to me, and therefore the price in this case is not all that irrelevant.

                                                                                                          Now I gotta get up to Maritza's for one of those burritos- haven't had one in a few years. Too much MSG infused grey beef in my tipsy past to make me want one, but good carne asada speaks for itself.


                                                                                                          1. re: SaltyRaisins
                                                                                                            Josh Jun 18, 2010 11:45 PM

                                                                                                            We'll have to agree to disagree. :-)

                                                                                                            I went out of my way to try the Let's Be Frank pastured hot dog on Acme roll in LA. I'd love to see a banh mi made with pastured meat and organic local veggies.

                                                                                                            1. re: Josh
                                                                                                              SaltyRaisins Jun 22, 2010 11:30 AM

                                                                                                              Chinaski? A self-reinvention with Bukowskian overtones? What's the deal?

                                                                                                              1. re: SaltyRaisins
                                                                                                                Josh Jun 23, 2010 10:49 PM

                                                                                                                I must have blacked out. I feel much better now.

                                                                                                                1. re: Josh
                                                                                                                  SaltyRaisins Jun 23, 2010 10:55 PM

                                                                                                                  Glad to have your grassfed ass back...but by all means- call yourself by whatever name you want. Bandini? I'm more of a Fante guy...

                                                                                                                  And thanks for letting me borrow your horse for a bit. Music analogies are better when seen from on high...


                                                                                                                  1. re: SaltyRaisins
                                                                                                                    Josh Jun 24, 2010 08:57 AM

                                                                                                                    Agreed on the music. I'm curious to check out this movie, Following The Ninth. If that ever makes it to San Diego, perhaps a food/film outing is in order for those 'hounds that appreciate the classical music.

                                                                                                    2. re: thirtyeyes
                                                                                                      deeznuts Jun 21, 2010 11:25 PM

                                                                                                      But they are $3 here, right?

                                                                                                      BTW the place outside of vietnam with the most vietnamese is Orange County. There is a healthy population in San Jose as well, but still not on Westminster/Garden Grove/Santa Ana/Anaheim etc. level.

                                                                                                      BTW had a $6 baoguette in NYC a few weeks ago. It was surprisingly good

                                                                                                      San Jose Restaurants
                                                                                                      213 Highland Ave, National City, CA 91950

                                                                                                  2. re: SaltyRaisins
                                                                                                    Alice Q Jun 25, 2010 05:47 PM

                                                                                                    I do that too! Extra pickle and easy mayo - cafe sue da extra dark. ;)

                                                                                                    1. re: SaltyRaisins
                                                                                                      articusiii Feb 10, 2011 01:58 PM

                                                                                                      YES! K Sandwiches is a great bang for your buck.

                                                                                                      K Sandwiches
                                                                                                      7604 Linda Vista Rd, San Diego, CA 92111

                                                                                            2. m
                                                                                              mayache Jun 17, 2010 05:58 PM

                                                                                              Jewish food....bagels and deli for sure

                                                                                              1. e
                                                                                                Encinitan Jun 17, 2010 05:33 PM

                                                                                                Great pastries, frozen custard, kasha knish

                                                                                                1. s
                                                                                                  stevewag23 Jun 17, 2010 05:25 PM

                                                                                                  Spanish food, Cuban Food, Steak Tartare, Foie Gras and Oyster Bars.

                                                                                                  And more creative dishes with seafood.

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: stevewag23
                                                                                                    jturtle Jun 17, 2010 09:47 PM

                                                                                                    How do you like Costa Brava? It is pretty tasty and lots of the employees are from Barthelona.

                                                                                                    Costa Brava
                                                                                                    1653 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109

                                                                                                    1. re: jturtle
                                                                                                      stevewag23 Jun 18, 2010 12:51 PM


                                                                                                      But the place really, really pales in comparison to a randomly picked, non descript restaurant in Spain.

                                                                                                      I was just in Spain for a month and I didn't eat one meal worse than that spot.

                                                                                                  2. honkman Jun 17, 2010 03:02 PM

                                                                                                    Foie gras, sweetbreads, esgargots, offal, Langers pastrami, good cheese selection in restaurants, good hand made pasta in restaurants, creative cocktails,pork belly etc.

                                                                                                    12 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: honkman
                                                                                                      stevewag23 Jun 19, 2010 02:24 PM

                                                                                                      honkman, do you like Venissimo Cheese?

                                                                                                      1. re: stevewag23
                                                                                                        honkman Jun 19, 2010 04:05 PM

                                                                                                        yes. It is a great place to get cheese for your cheese plate at home but I would like to see restaurants use these kind of sources for their cheese plate and add their house-made condiments.Something what Bistro LQ is doing in LA (They have at leadt 25 cheeses available all the times with about 10-15 condiments)

                                                                                                        1. re: honkman
                                                                                                          Josh Jun 19, 2010 04:36 PM

                                                                                                          Not sure if you've been to Blind Lady Ale House lately, but their cheese/charcuterie plates are fantastic. Last one we had featured smoked lamb terrine. The condiments on the plate are really delicious - they make kind of a pickled raisin relish with mustard seed and coriander, and the last one of these also incorporated apricots. They vary in quality - some plates I've liked less than others (due to variation in items), but when they're good they're very, very good.

                                                                                                          Blind Lady Ale House
                                                                                                          3416 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA

                                                                                                          1. re: Josh
                                                                                                            honkman Jun 19, 2010 06:45 PM

                                                                                                            BLAH is one of our always expanding list of restaurants to try for some time - is their strength more the charcuterie or the cheese part and do they also have some more unusual cheese, e.g. epoisses

                                                                                                            1. re: honkman
                                                                                                              steveprez Jun 20, 2010 06:28 AM

                                                                                                              Agree with Josh here. The last couple of times I went to BLAH I ordered a cheese plate and they were excellent. As he said, they add great condiments like the raisin relish and the whole honeycombs that I really enjoy. The cheeses were varied including some exotic ones; always paired very well with the type of beer they serve. I wish I could remember the names of some of them but that's not easy after a couple of pints of 8% ABV ale. ;)

                                                                                                              Keep in mind that the menu there is not extensive and more appropriate for a casual meal than a big nite out. The owners and staff there are nice people and if you mention something you like, they'll likely try to get it. Epoisses may be difficult since only the pasteurized versions are legal to import.

                                                                                                              1. re: honkman
                                                                                                                Josh Jun 20, 2010 10:40 AM

                                                                                                                The charcuterie plate is my personal favorite, vs. the cheese. You could order 1 of each. If you see the crab-stuffed fried squash blossoms, those are worth trying, too.

                                                                                                                I believe their chef used to work at Region, and they get their produce from Suzy's Farm. Their salads are usually pretty good, too. Pizza isn't bad, but it's no Bruno.

                                                                                                                1. re: Josh
                                                                                                                  Alice Q Jun 25, 2010 05:29 PM

                                                                                                                  had a great special last night - fried green tomatoes with grilled shrimp and a corn succotash. The mussels & Knight Salumi pizza were also delish.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Alice Q
                                                                                                                    Josh Jun 25, 2010 08:16 PM

                                                                                                                    Yeah those fried green tomatoes are money. Very happy to see how that place has developed.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Josh
                                                                                                                      Alice Q Jun 26, 2010 12:30 PM

                                                                                                                      Had good fried green tomatoes at AR Valentien yesterday too - in a salad with pork belly :)

                                                                                                                      1. re: Alice Q
                                                                                                                        Josh Jun 26, 2010 06:08 PM

                                                                                                                        That sounds like it didn't suck.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Josh
                                                                                                                          foodiechick Jun 26, 2010 11:11 PM

                                                                                                                          No way could it suck. I love what AR Valentien does with summer ingredients. I love that restaurant overall, but really frequent it in the spring/summer when they have the best ingredients to play with. It is my favorite, Saturday lunch day spot in this season!

                                                                                                            2. re: honkman
                                                                                                              stevewag23 Jun 19, 2010 06:26 PM

                                                                                                              I think I remember their person at their downtown loc was telling me they are trying to get in more restaurants. I should have got a list of where they were.

                                                                                                        2. Fake Name Jun 17, 2010 03:02 PM

                                                                                                          BBQ Tomales Bay Oysters with good sourdough bread like Tony's Seafood in Marshall, CA.

                                                                                                          Many years ago, Montana's (I miss it so) offered them, but they didn't sell well and were taken off the list.

                                                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Fake Name
                                                                                                            Fake Name Jun 17, 2010 03:04 PM

                                                                                                            I did try this a few days ago and got a reasonable approximation:

                                                                                                            1. re: Fake Name
                                                                                                              Beach Chick Jun 17, 2010 05:20 PM

                                                                                                              I liked Montana's too..
                                                                                                              Great pics FN..I'll take a dozen of those bad boys with some freshly shaved horsey and cocktail sauce with a dash of tabasco and lemon squeeze.

                                                                                                              Honkman..What's offal?

                                                                                                              1. re: Beach Chick
                                                                                                                DiningDiva Jun 17, 2010 05:47 PM

                                                                                                                Innards...guts...the stuff Americans don't eat but most of the rest of the world does

                                                                                                                1. re: DiningDiva
                                                                                                                  honkman Jun 17, 2010 09:15 PM

                                                                                                                  Nice summary

                                                                                                              2. re: Fake Name
                                                                                                                Dagney Sep 1, 2010 02:26 PM

                                                                                                                Ohhhh, sigh,,, Montana's....

                                                                                                                1. re: Fake Name
                                                                                                                  Julie S Sep 1, 2010 04:59 PM

                                                                                                                  OMG you said some of my favorite words in those 2 sentences! Tomales Bay Oysters. Marshall, CA. Montana's. (...sigh...)

                                                                                                                  1. re: Julie S
                                                                                                                    Fake Name Sep 1, 2010 07:46 PM

                                                                                                                    "OMG you said some of my favorite words in those 2 sentences!"

                                                                                                                    It is my habit....

                                                                                                                    1. re: Fake Name
                                                                                                                      foodiechick Sep 1, 2010 11:04 PM


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